Community pantries are organized by people in the Philippines to provide food to those who may be struggling financially as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has informed that alcohol and tobacco will not be allowed to be distributed via these pantries.

The announcement was made by the Secretary of DILG Eduardo Año. The community pantry organizers are not required to secure permits, but there are some rules to ensure public safety. Making the pantries alcohol and tobacco free is one such rule.

We will ban illegal items like alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Those are not good for one’s health, so we won’t allow them to be included in these community pantries,” said Eduardo Año, Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government of Philippines, as per CNN.

Eduardo Año, Secretary, Department of the Interior and Local Government of Philippines

This measure was put in place after one pantry reportedly gave away alcohol. Alcohol has a lethal interaction with the COVID-19 pandemic, as detailed in a groundbreaking report.

  1. Alcohol increases the health and societal problems arising from the pandemic. For example, alcohol weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infections. And alcohol-centric social contexts have been COVID-19 super spreader events. 
  2. Alcohol increases the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already stretched due to the COVID-19.
  3. The alcohol industry exploits the pandemic to change alcohol laws to their private benefit.

Therefore, the World Health Organization advised governments to limit alcohol availability during the pandemic.

The DILG also stated physical distancing must be protected by all community pantries to avoid coronavirus spread.

The community pantries are helping many people in this challenging time. Many citizens are donating to help their fellow citizens. As a result, the Maginhawa community pantry was recently converted to a drop off center for all donations. The donations are then distributed across 20 community pantries in nearby neighborhoods. This increases their reach and reduces people gathering and having to wait in long queues. The DILG signed a joint memorandum circular with the Anti Red-Tape Authority to ensure smoother delivery of donations to and from community pantries.

Source Website: CNN